STATUS: IUCN Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix l
The population of the Amur leopard is estimated at approximately 30 to 40 mature males. The Russian range of this species shrank by nearly 80 percent between the years 1970-1983. The remaining population is in serious decline..
The magnificent Amur (amour) or Far Eastern Leopard is one of the most, if not the most, endangered big cats in the world, yet it receives much less attention and conservation funding than the Amur Tiger. The Amur Leopards are in extreme danger of extinction.
The beautiful Amur Leopards are known as strong, solitary, nocturnal animals that can live about 10 to 15 years in the wild. A rare subspecies of leopard, they live in the northern most part of leopard’s range in North East China and the Russian Far East, in a narrow band of land along the politically sensitive Russian, Chinese and North Korean borders. Weather in the broadleaf and mixed temperate forests is highly variable with extremely cold, snowy winters. The last remaining viable population of about 35 leopards resides in a biodiversity hotspot called Southwest Primorye, a small area in Russia between Vladivostok and the Chinese border.
Ten times more endangered than the Amur Tiger, the plight of the Amur Leopard went almost unnoticed until zoos began to speak out on their behalf in the 1990’s.
The leopard’s range was drastically reduced by about 80% between 1970 and 1983. It’s primary threats include: out of control habitat loss and fragmentation, deforestation due to intensive logging and clear cutting, rampant human-caused wildfires, development and infrastructure projects, poaching of the leopard and the prey it relies upon (roe deer and sitka deer), inbreeding, and the introduction of diseases.
ALTA (Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance) has created a comprehensive international conservation strategy, including funding for front line anti-poaching patrols, habitat protection, compensation for livestock kills, fire fighting and sustainable forest management, research, monitoring, education and awareness about the importance of the Amur Leopard, increasing political will and muscle to save the species. Ideally, this exceptionally important biodiversity hotspot, which has about 100 terrestrial endangered species, 48 of them endemic, will be protected by strong international laws, cooperation and local front line protection. The fresh and marine water wetlands in Southwest Priorye are of global importance to migrating birds, and has more protected areas than any other part of Russia.
There are over 100 Amur Leopards in zoos, a vital resource for research, conservation in the wild, education, fundraising and increasing the genetic pool.
The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. Wild mercy is in our hands.